After three bumper bundles of episodes, volume four brings us to the end of our whistle-stop tour of the original Slayers series, as star of the show Lina Inverse and her motley crew of sorceresses and swordsmen reach their final battle against Rezo. Again.
Yes, that's right, despite beating him comprehensively half-way through the series, the evil red priest is back... or at least, a copy of him is, meaning that our heroes have to go through the entire process of defeating him once again - A job made more difficult by Rezo's subsequent increase in power and the assistance of his devoted companion Eris. Oh, and a talking chicken. No, really, I'm not kidding.
Although the grand climax to the series inevitably means that the overall tone is a little more serious this time around (and surprisingly harsh and bloody on occasion, it has to be said), thankfully these final episodes of Slayers don't lose sight of the light-hearted, self-referential humour that keeps this anime (just about) out of the clutches of mediocrity. Sure, it's a little cheesy and retains a decidedly Saturday morning cartoon feel to it much of the time, but you can't help but raise the occasional smile at Lina's wise-cracking attitude, Gourry's sheer stupidity or Zelgadis' blunt quips. Despite Lina having to face up to Rezo again, we should also be thankful that the series doesn't simply offer up a carbon copy of the original battle between these two forces, instead taking a far longer and more complex route to reach its big finish.
Slayers might not even be a classic of its own era, and it certainly isn't a classic of this, but the more episodes I've watched of this series the more it's managed to grow on me, which has to be a feat worthy of some recognition at least. The story is as predictable as they come, but there's a certain something about the main characters that makes them all lovable in their own badly animated ways which has, over time, succeeded in charming me enough to actually want to watch more rather than simply taking a deep breath and painfully ploughing through the series. Is that enough to make it a must-buy series? Probably not in all honesty unless you're a completist who is planning on owning all things Slayers from beginning to end, or alternatively if you're on a retro anime mission and simply have to watch a series like this. If you are planning to pick up this series however, it probably has enough to it to entertain most anime fans for a few hours, and with so many episodes packed into just four volumes it certainly represents value for money if you prize lots of episodes over lots of extras.